Lena Finds a Discarded Answering Machine (Part 2)

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Lena made a beeline from the garage to her bedroom. Without thinking, she opened her closet door and pulled down a large box of miscellaneous items she kept stored on the top shelf. After rummaging through its contents for a few seconds, she found it: her old tape player!

Just to be sure Lena walked to the front door, opened it and checked the driveway to be certain her mom wasn’t home. No car parked. Then she went to her mom’s room to be sure that it was empty too. You can’t be too careful, she said to herself. And finally she walked around the other rooms in the house just to be certain that she was absolutely, completely alone. When Lena established that she was in fact the only person in the house, she went back to her bedroom and closed and locked her door.

Lena slowly pulled the tape out of her pocket and held it in her hands, turning it over and running her fingers along its edges, as she built up the courage to play it. After what seemed like hours, she pushed it into the machine, plugged her headphones in and pressed play.

You’ve reached Maria and Lena. Sorry we couldn’t come to the phone right now, but if you leave your name, number and brief message we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

(BEEP)

LENA! It’s mom. Call me back as soon as you hear this.

(BEEP)

You’ve reached Maria and Lena. Sorry we couldn’t come to the phone right now, but if you…

(BEEP)

Hello, Mrs. Gomez. We’re calling from the Bank of America to inform you that your checking account has had some unusual activity, and we would like you to give us a call as soon as you can to confirm some recent transactions.

(BEEP)

You’ve reached Maria and Lena. Sorry we couldn’t come to the phone right now, but if you…

(BEEP)

Mija, you need to call us back. Your mom is going crazy wondering where you are. Call us back soon, OK? Te quiero mija.

(BEEP)

You’ve reached Maria and Lena. Sorry we couldn’t come to the phone right now, but if you…

(BEEP)

(heavy breathing)…you know who this is, bitch. I’m coming for you.

(BEEP)

You’ve reached Maria and Lena. Sorry we couldn’t come to the phone right now, but if you…

(BEEP)

Lena stopped the tape. (Who the hell was that??)

As far as she knew, her mom lived a pretty hum-drum, predictable life. She worked almost everyday clerking for an attorney’s office. When she did take time off on the weekends, they visited her grandparents. Mom had virtually no friends to speak of, except for a close friend of hers she talked to once a week who lived back in Texas where mom grew up.

Who the hell was that? And why didn’t mom tell Lena anything about it? That tape was from a few years back, so Lena figured it must’ve been an empty threat. The only thing her mom did was remove the answering machine and direct her calls from work, her parents and her one friend to her cell phone.

That’s when it struck Lena. There was another odd thing that happened after mom removed the answering machine. She no longer took calls at the house. Every call that came her way came through her cell. And very few people had access to it outside of work, family and her one friend.

And then Lena started thinking about all the other odd things that changed since that phone call. Although mom worked hard and made good money at the law office, she never seemed to have any money for vacations or for extracurricular things for Lena to take part in. Her mom always said it was because she was saving up for Lena’s college fund, or because she just didn’t have time to take off. And Lena always accepted that because her mother never lied to her. Or so she thought.

Lena wasn’t allowed to go to her friends’ houses for sleepovers, and she could only go to parties if her mom had the time away from work to be able to wait outside in her car. So basically, Lena didn’t go to parties. She was allowed to participate in school activities, so long as they happened within the confines of the school. She was never allowed to go on any overnight school trips, and she was never allowed to join in on chorus performances at other schools for county competitions. This also meant that Lena wasn’t allowed to go on field trips, unless her mom was able to join in as a chaperone. All of this was arranged and sorted out with the school’s administrative department. After that weird time when mom unplugged and stored the answering machine away!

How had that pivotal moment and its subsequent changes gone unnoticed?

Lena always thought that this was because her mother was overprotective. She also assumed her mom did it for some odd religious reasons, but she never really thought to ask why. And with that sinister voice ringing in her ears, telling her mom to watch out, Lena was building up a frenzy of questions that demanded answers, no matter how much trouble she would get in for asking them.

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Writer, book nerd and music & singing lover. Find my first poetry eBook, “I Was I” on Amazon Kindle (amzn.to/2Tp723z).

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Alexis Williams

Alexis Williams

Writer, book nerd and music & singing lover. Find my first poetry eBook, “I Was I” on Amazon Kindle (amzn.to/2Tp723z).

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